Design choices in imaging speech comprehension: an Activation Likelihood Estimation (ALE) meta-analysis

Neuroimage. 2012 Nov 15;63(3):1601-13. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.07.027. Epub 2012 Jul 23.


The localisation of spoken language comprehension is debated extensively: is processing located anterior or posterior on the left temporal lobe, and is it left- or bilaterally organised? An Activation Likelihood Estimation (ALE) analysis was conducted on functional MRI and PET studies investigating speech comprehension to identify the neural network involved in comprehension processing. Furthermore, the analysis aimed to establish the effect of four design choices (scanning paradigm, non-speech baseline, the presence of a task, and the type of stimulus material) on this comprehension network. The analysis included 57 experiments contrasting intelligible with less intelligible or unintelligible stimuli. A large comprehension network was found across bilateral Superior Temporal Sulcus (STS), Middle Temporal Gyrus (MTG) and Superior Temporal (STS) bilaterally, in left Inferior Frontal Gyrus (IFG), left Precentral Gyrus, and Supplementary Motor Area (SMA) and pre-SMA. The core network for post-lexical processing was restricted to the temporal lobes bilaterally with the highest ALE values located anterior to Heschl's Gyrus. Activations in the ALE comprehension network outside the temporal lobes (left IFG, SMA/pre-SMA, and Precentral Gyrus) were driven by the use of sentences instead of words, the scanning paradigm, or the type of non-speech baseline.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Comprehension / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Speech Perception / physiology*